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            Today I will be writing about everything that needs to be considered in planning a business trip to Japan. The steps I will be laying out could be used as a bare bones outline for steps need to be taken to plan any business trip. The trip I will be planning for is a business trip from Milwaukee to Tokyo but the essential themes of travel planning are the same no matter the destination or duration of your trip. If you follow the steps I lay out you will be prepared to successfully and efficiently plan a business trip.

There is a lot of things to be considered when planning this sort of trip, not only do you need to concern yourself with getting all members traveling on the trip to cooperate and up to speed at the same time. You also need to consider the cost associated with every step of planning and where you can best save money in your travel plans. The first step to creating a budget is to list every essential step needed for travel and then go through point by point and figure out the most economical way to meet these requirements. For example for the trip I am planning I figure the essential steps are as follows: Making sure everyone has the required travel documents up to date, finding and booking the best fitting flight for your needs, finding and booking lodging that makes sense for the trip without spending more than needed, meal plans or per diem depending on what better fits your needs and budget, transportation such as car service or shuttles to and from airport, hotel and business destinations, and parking for employees vehicles during the trip.

Travel documents are of the upmost importance you and everyone on your team are going to need the required and up to date documents. The documents needed will vary slightly depending on your destination, mode of travel and individual team members statuses. Generally speaking most people only need a current passport to travel to most destinations, however this is not always the case and it’s an important step to make sure that’s all any member of your team needs and also that they have one. I list this first because it is absolutely needed to travel internationally and takes a long time to be issued a passport. This is why it’s the first thing you should concern yourself with it can over a month to get a passport so it makes sense to not plan anything until you can verify everyone has their papers in order.

The next thing I would focus on is airfare. Now airfare is notoriously expensive however there are some tips I have learnt to help save money when booking flights. One tip is to use google flights when shopping for airfare. Google flights lets you compare the price of several airlines at once helping you to sniff out the best deal. Google flights also allows you to track flights with optional notifications so you can get a feel for when the prices change and hopefully be able to buy when they are at a low point. Another tip I have learned for saving money when booking flights is airfare is generally the cheapest six weeks before the date of travel and Tuesday mornings are generally the best time to book flights as that’s when they tend to be the least expensive. Another thing to consider is getting a company credit card that allows you to get frequent flyer miles this way your next business trip can be somewhat subsidized by the miles you have already earned.

Once you are sure everyone has the correct papers and your flights have been booked it is now time to consider lodging. Lodging for a business trip should be functional but no frills are needed. Being that this is for business and not a personal vacation there is no reason to spend unnecessary money on staying in a fancy five-star hotel. I would recommend aiming for a middle of the road well known chain hotel. This way you know your rooms and stay will be perfectly suitable. Using a major brand hotel will prevent some of the problems associated with staying at a “sleazy” motel while saving your budget from the stress of a higher end tower hotel.

Lastly you will want to consider some of the smaller details such as food costs, in city transportation and parking. These are all small details however you want to have a plan in place so you are not surprised by any fees not accounted for in the budget. In my mind there are two schools of thought on food, you can plan on feeding everyone on your team several times a day or you can give them an allotted per diem per day and let them figure it out themselves. I am a fan of the second option as it makes planning significantly easier, if you just give everyone a flat per diem to feed themselves then you no longer have to worry about getting everyone to agree on where to eat, when dietary restrictions etc. As far as in city transportation is concerned I would either book a hotel that offers complimentary shuttle service or plan on using ridesharing services like uber or lyft. Shuttle service is a common hotel feature especially being in a group many hotels are able to accommodate this need. Otherwise using a ridesharing app will always be less expensive then hailing a cab and no one want to worry about public transportation in a foreign city. The last of the small things to consider is parking while you’re on the trip. Parking at airports can be pricey especially when there are multiple cars to consider. I would opt if possible to have all employees leave their cars at the works parking lot and getting a shuttle to the airport. As long as this is acceptable by the buildings management it will save a lot of money and I personally would rather leave my car in a familiar spot then in some airport parking lot for the duration of the trip.

If you follow the guidelines and tips laid out above you should be able to plan a trip anywhere and stay on a tight budget. I know it can seem overwhelming when planning a large trip with so much to consider, however if you break it down step by step it becomes much more manageable. This segmented way of planning is also budget friendly as it allows you to try to save cost at every needed step of your plan. This is the strategy I would recommend when planning a business trip. If you follow my steps you will be able to plan a successful trip while staying on budget.